Revisit our April Fools’ Day 2015 prank — the acceptance of a single global currency under the GMU.
It was announced today at the UN Headquarters in New York City that world leaders had ratified the GMU (Global Monetary Union) agreement. First proposed over 50 years ago, the GMU had a long and difficult road to ratification. It was voted down over a dozen times over the decades and even the most ardent supporters had doubted whether it would ever be signed. North Korea, Eritrea, Venezuela, Switzerland and the UK are the only holdouts on the deal. Switzerland and the UK have, however, agreed to have their currencies (the Swiss franc and the pound sterling) pegged to an agreed exchange rate. All 188 other UN countries signed the agreement with Palestinian leaders signalling that, should they become a UN recognised state, they too would sign the deal.
Supporters of the resolution have been rejoicing, but there is still a long way to go for the GMU. The first step (which will be implemented a year today on 1 April 2016) is for all existing currencies to be pegged to one another. Over the next five years the pegged exchange rates will be brought closer together until reaching parity with the US dollar (which will serve as the benchmark). Finally, in 2021 the new currency will be unveiled to the world.
There are few words on the specifics of the notes but much speculation. What is clear is that a contest will be held to determine the design of the future notes and coins. Anyone can submit their proposal and some notable entrants have already been announced. Artists including Banksy, Damien Hirst, Ai Weiwei have all been invited to submit proposals, as have notable graphic designers and even Hollywood directors such as Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay. Whoever’s design is successful (as determined by a UN vote, national referendums, and finally by a televised global competition) will receive 0.0001% of all bills in the initial printing. A small percentage, but one that could be worth over $1 billion. The only stipulation that has been made clear is that, in order to avoid over or under representing certain countries, cultures or languages, all words will be in Esperanto (an international language developed in 1887). Nobel Peace Prize Winners will be depicted on one side of the bills. Contentiously included alongside Noble Peace Prize winners such as Nelson Mandela (rumoured to be on the $100 bill) will be Henry Kissinger, the 1973 recipient and Barack Obama who won in 2009. Kissinger, when informed of the news said, “It is a great honor, I only wish Richard Nixon was alive to see this day.”
Critics and protesters against the GMU
Already, critics of the plan have become very vocal. Investors, brokers and foreign exchange experts have been protesting the plan in their thousands. One protester, who wanted to remain anonymous, said, “the GMU will effectively mean the end of the foreign exchange market.” Ted Cruz, a Republican presidential nominee frontrunner, recently announced on CNN that the plan “amounts to a socialist takeover” and that, if elected he would “pull out of the GMU and all other UN agreements – past, present, and future.”
Prime Minister Stephan Harper could not be reached for comment but a junior aid did resign after taking responsibility for Canada’s participation. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau initially supported the plan until polls proved that it was unpopular, and Tom Mulcair, in a lengthy speech, declared that it was not Canada’s role to be involved in the international debate and that we should “take a backseat” on the issue. Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green Party, argued that regardless of the economic implications the environmental concerns should be addressed.
Elizabeth May is not alone in her concerns. Environmental activists have derided the GMU for “lack of forethought” and succumbing to “archaic ideas about the material of currency.” This comment was spurred by the announcement that, rather than adopt plastic currency (similar the type that is used by Canada, Australia and others) the new global currency will be made from the same material as the greenback. Greenpeace, and other organisations, have long protested the US treasury’s continued use of what has been called ‘fibre pulp’. Many activists have gone so far as to refuse payment in US currency, instead using a system of bartering.
árvore do dinheiro
‘Fiber pulp’ comes from the árvore do dinheiro tree of South America, which produces a particularly stringy and fibrous pulp ideal for printing currency. Large corporations in Brazil have been accused of clear-cutting and even burning the rainforest in order to build profitable árvore do dinheiro plantations. When confronted by accusations of environmental degradation the owner of one such plantation said “money doesn’t grow on trees, or at least not on the trees that grow naturally in the rainforest.” Despite concerns about the environmental impact the GMU press officer insisted that, “the use of a familiar currency texture is paramount to the successful adoption of the new currency by everyday people – especially Americans.” One man, who was interviewed just outside the UN headquarters, said “how would you even know if plastic money is real or not?”
Despite these setbacks the GMU seems to have an unstoppable momentum behind it. Regardless of one’s position it is clear that the GMU will change the way the world does commerce forever.
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